Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

 Unfollow Me: A Novel by Charlotte Duckworth


Thank you Charlotte Duckworth, Crooked Lane Press and NetGalley for gifting me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the US on March 10, 2020.

This book is billed as a domestic thriller and does not disappoint.  Ms. Duckworth lifts the curtains and peers beneath the glittery posts of influencer, Violet Young—to look at the gray underbelly of social media— IRL style.

Violet is a vlogger with millions of followers—she is all over social media with accounts on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and FaceBook—all this media attention has drawn commercial sponsorship, as well.

She is the young mother to three girls, the wife of Henry-a bit of a social media influencer himself and her immensely popular vlog “Violet is Blue” is the video portrayal of her personal and family life.

It began innocently enough as a way to help herself and other mums suffering through Postpartum Depression but as she grew in popularity it morphed into a business filled with free gifts, sponsorship and not so “real” content. More often than not, this was coming at the expense of privacy, her children, and her marriage.

Then one morning without any advance warning all of Violet Young’s accounts disappear and are shut down much to the dismay of her millions of followers who feel abandoned and betrayed.

The subsequent story revolves around several individual threads:

  • a set of trolling threatening emails sent to Violet
  • a forum (a set of followers who post comments about Violet’s vlog)
  • Lily, an avid obsessed follower who presents herself as a widowed single mother
  • Yvonne, a recently married follower in her late 30’s desperate to conceive a child
  • and starting about halfway through Henry, Violet’s husband also chimes in.

These “separate”  stories are told through alternating chapters and Ms. Duckworth slowly begins to cleverly knit together these seemingly disparate threads.

While Violet is the centerpiece her voice is absent and her whereabouts remain a mystery.  The result is a slowly evolving story that certainly kept me both guessing and swiping through pages.

I enjoyed the complexity of her characters ranging from “good” bad people to behavior from the seemingly good characters that had me giving them a bit of the side eye.  I dabble at social media and am not a fan of personality based “reality” shows—my tastes run more towards cooking, real estate and Project Runway type reality shows.

However, I can appreciate the concepts/characters that the author is seeking to portray and her writing makes it all seem very real.  I can certainly relate to the obsessional stalker-like tendencies that are often brought to the forefront during human relationships both real and imagined.

I feel that sharing my opinions about how things further develop might come at the expense of supplying spoilers and this is not fair to other readers or the author. But I do have one more thought about a deeper theme.

In her book, Ms. Duckworth has one of her characters say: “Being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Human life is increasingly based on imaginary concepts be it money, time, laws, rights, or social media and the human belief that we are entitled to all of this and more grows stronger each imagined day.

It is very easy to look out and find hate, there is no need to teach you how to suffer or how to inflict pain. It is very easy to lay blame and to expect others to ease your pain— allowing them to shoulder responsibility for what’s wrong in your life. 

It is very easy to feel that you deserve more, that it is your right to have what others have, thatit is their fault that you do not. You didn’t ask for this and you certainly don’t deserve it —but that’s not your fault — that when it comes to getting the things you deserve the end justifies the means.

Some humans drink this poison as part of their everyday life and some humans settle in to enjoy reading about their travails.

How Ms. Duckworth resolves this for all her various characters makes for valuable reading time well spent. I will definitely be reading her previous book, The Rival.

Charlotte Duckworth has spent the past fifteen years working as an interiors and lifestyle journalist, writing for a wide range of consumer magazines and websites. She lives in Surrey with her partner and their young daughter.

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